Friday, December 18, 2015

Blume (or Rebecca) Katz Siegel Katz

The first wife of my husband's second great grandfather, Simche Siegel (believed to be named Rose), died before Simche immigrated to America. His second wife appears named as Rebecca, Bertha or Blume, depending on the record. Also depending on the record, she was born anywhere between 1865 (passenger list) and 1879 (the 1930 U.S. Census). Considering her first child was born about 1891, it's not possible for her to have been born in 1879!

The extended Siegel family arrived in New York City on December 15, 1891, on the Circassia. I shared the passenger list at Thankful Thursday ~ International Passenger Lists. Simche's wife is listed as Blume Siegel. Where does Katz come from? Keep reading for the explanation for the title of this post.

By 1895, the family was living in Dennis, Cape May County, New Jersey. I shared this New Jersey State Census record at Census Searching ~ Listen to All Family Stories. It is in this census that I first find Rebecca's name.

Simche became a naturalized citizen in 1899 which made his wife a citizen too, though she is not named in this document. In 1900, the family (56-year-old "Samuel" and 26-year-old "Bertha" have two children: Lena and Louis) is again in Dennis Township.

Blume/Rebecca had three children with Simche:
Lena (born about 1891), who arrived as an infant with them from Russia.
Lewis (born 1899 in New Jersey), who went by Seigle.
Edward (born 1903 as Israel in New Jersey), who also went by Seigle.

By 1910, the family was living in Holly Beach, which became part of Wildwood in 1912.

1910 U.S. Federal Census, Holly Beach, Cape May County, New Jersey; Roll: T624_870;
Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 90; Record for Samuel Segal.
Despite misspellings, this federal census tells me a lot: 66-year-old Samuel Segal, head of household and his (second) wife, 38-year-old Rebecca, have been married 20 years and were born in "Rushia." Daughter Lena, is married with a child (but no husband or child listed here), Louis (age 10, born in New Jersey), and "Isereal" (age 7, born in New Jersey). Also listed is a Benjiman Levin, a brother-in-law: is he a brother of Rebecca or possibly of Simche's first wife, Rose?

After Simche died in 1919, Rebecca/Blume remained in the same community. I find her in each of the decennial censuses 1920, 1930, and 1940, at 5006 Arctic Avenue. I also find her in a handful of city directories during this time.

The 1920 Census is interesting, showing widowed Rebecca (age 46) with her two sons in her household as well as Benjamin Cates, a 35-year-old cousin, who immigrated in 1903 and naturalized in 1917.

1920 U.S. Federal Census, Wildwood, Cape May, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1025;
Page 10B: Enumeration District: 130; Record for Rebecca Segal.

Looking at later census records in 1930 and 1940, I believe that this Benjamin became Rebecca's second husband and they married about 1931. He was a taxi driver and they were financially comfortable compared with Segal relatives still in Woodbine.

My mother-in-law has told me stories about Blume that she probably heard from her mother, Rose, and grandmother, Goldie. It appears likely that Goldie and Rose didn't like Blume and those negative feelings were passed down. Blume is the only name that my mother-in-law remembers hearing; she never heard her referred to as Rebecca!

Blume seemed to wear the pants in the family. When family came from Woodbine to visit (and ask for financial assistance), she didn't let Simche give them money. She didn't seem to want to stay in touch with her step-children, at least not Goldie. I have also noted that Blume didn't let Simche smoke.

My mother-in-law's childhood memory of Blume is seeing her pushing her twin grandchildren, girls born in 1932, just a few years younger than my mother-in-law, on the boardwalk in Wildwood. I have not had luck finding these cousins, though my notes say that they married Italian men, possibly brothers.

Although my mother-in-law grew up in Woodbine and has regularly visited the Woodbine Brotherhood Cemetery where her parents and other relatives are buried, she has no memory of her mother or grandmother visiting the grave of Simche, who is buried in Tifereth Israel Cemetery in Woodbine. I have written about that all-Hebrew gravestone. She also didn't know when or where Blume died or was buried.

And the reason for the title of the post? It appears that Benjamin Cates (more often spelled Katz) likely is her cousin as noted in the 1920 census. The 1957 death certificate of her son, Lewis, names his mother as Rebecca Katz in the field that asks for mother's maiden name. So she was born Rebecca/Blume Katz; married Simche and became Rebecca/Blume Siegel; then married Benjamin Katz and became, again, Rebecca/Blume Katz. I shared her gravestone here.

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